This I Believe

Eleni - North Bellmore, New York
Entered on December 1, 2007

My best friend has one arm. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t like every other person I know; its so natural for me to forget about her disability that I often tell her to use her other hand when she’s having trouble doing something as simple as tying her shoe. Knowing her has made me believe in the power of my own hands.

You would think that with only one arm trying to be an artist would be a setback, but in fact, she is one of the most talented painter/sculptor/photographers that I know. Wouldn’t her example of defeating the need for both arms be so contradictory to my belief in the power of our hands?

Well, it is through watching her struggles and triumphs that I realized how much I took my ten fingers and two palms for granted. I have learned that my hands are much more than a tactile tool that allow me to feel texture, operate a car, or brush my hair. Anyone can find a way to do that through other vehicles-it is the larger connection that my hands allow between the world and me that I believe in so solidly.

I treasure my hands so much because of the fact that they transcend touch and elicit their own form of communication just like written or spoken languages. There is a Latin saying- mans et manus- meaning “the hand and the mind.” Everything I think, want, or say, may originate in my brain, but my hand is the thing that executes everything I do. Even when I say what I feel or think, my hands accompany that feeling. My hands have the ability to manipulate what I see before me, and even if all my other senses were gone, the sense of touch that my hands allow could keep me living a life that I enjoy.

As an art student, my hands become my extension out into the world to allow others to know what I think. Without them I could only dictate what I want to create and not have the physical ability to control my vision. With my hands, ideas come to life before me, forming new possibilities with every maneuver of my fingers.

Without my hands, a vital source of communication would be missing. Knowing my friend and seeing her struggle through opening a gum wrapper or hanging on the monkey bars has not only made me grateful for my hands, but it has also brought me to a realization about just how many levels of importance they hold. My hands are both physically, emotionally, and mentally vital to my being. This I believe.